This week I really wanted to try out an aggressive deck in Standard that wasn't Atarka Red. The list of aggressive decks really isn't that long, and I put R/G Landfall in the same category as Atarka Red. U/R Prowess is an aggressive tempo-based deck, which can win on turn four, yet also can draw a ton of cards later in the game. The deck plays out in a very different way when compared to any other Standard archetype in the format, and that is exciting!
Originally the plan was to run straight U/R Prowess, a deck that was popularized early on in Oath of the Gatewatch Standard. After realizing that the black splash is essentially free, though, it seemed silly not to play a few black cards. The list played by Kenji Egashira, better known as NumotTheNummy, is the strongest version of the deck:
After playing the matches I felt like the deck served up a couple bad draws and mulligans in unfortunate spots, while our opponents played quite well. Atarka Red is this deck's worst matchup because of how their cheap removal can take care of pretty much all our threats. This deck doesn't play a ton of creatures, and really needs one in play in order to be able to put enough pressure on the opposition. Losing to both Atarka and Mardu makes a lot of sense as those decks have access to lots of cheap removal, which is why playing U/R Prowess is very much a metagame call.
The best part about playing this deck is how good it feels versus Rally. When playing against the Four-Color Rally deck neither game felt particularly close, and the Stormchaser Mages were perfect for going over the top of their creatures. Rally typically clogs up the ground quite a bit but with evasion and Slip Through Space it's not that difficult to put together a combo finish. Rally doesn't have access to much removal and Reflector Mage didn't set the U/R Prowess deck back very much. If anything Reflector Mage simply allowed more value to be gained off Abbot of Keral Keep.
The maindeck feels quite strong at producing a combo kill — dealing a huge chunk to the opponent in one blow. This normally involves a flurry of Temur Battle Rage and Titan's Strength, but after game one the opponent will be prepared. The deck feels like it can be disjointed after sideboard, depending on what the opponent's plan is. In order to bring in sideboard cards it is normally necessary to take out some of the cards that help enable combo finishes.
Against the Mardu Dragons player, boarding in the Disdainful Strokes felt right, but they never did anything. To me the counterspells in the sideboard are a necessary evil, but can also be a little bit of a trap. These should only come in when completely necessary since counterspells don't synergize well with what the deck is trying to do with prowess and Abbot of Keral Keep. One sideboard card I'm not sure I would play again is Duress. While Duress is a good sideboard card in general there will be times that you want to play it on turn one, and this deck has no way to do that. Don't get me wrong, I like the black splash, but Duress was underwhelming.
I would recommend this deck to anyone who wants to play a deck with good mana in Standard. There is a lot that can be said for being synergistic and having a strong aggressive plan, while falling back on Treasure Cruise for value. The deck plays out like an aggressive creature deck but has a built in combo that really showcases the power of what prowess creatures can do. It feels like various base-green decks are gaining more popularity in Standard, and this deck has demolished any deck that can't kill off opposing threats with ease. This is a deck I would happily play against a field full of Green Ramp and Four-Color Rally, but would think twice about playing it if I expected lots of Atarka Red.